This is our first report on arms export controls since the present Government took office in May 2010. As in previous years, we have reviewed the Government's policy on arms exports, its administration and enforcement, and the adequacy or otherwise of current legislation.
This year we have paid particular attention to the Government's policy of intensifying the promotion of arms exports. The policy has come under scrutiny following the uprisings and demonstrations in recent weeks in North Africa and the wider Middle East and the armed response made to them. We set out in Annex 4 selected licence approvals to a number of countries in the region from January 2009 to September 2010 of arms that could be used for internal repression. Since January 2011 the Government has been vigorously backpedalling on a number of arms export licence approvals to authoritarian regimes across the region as detailed in our Report. We conclude that both the present Government and its predecessor misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to certain authoritarian countries in North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression. We welcome the revocation of a number of arms export licences to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and recommend that the Government extends immediately its review of UK arms export licences for countries in North Africa and the wider Middle East to authoritarian regimes worldwide. We also recommend that the Government sets out how it intends to reconcile the potential conflict of interest between increased emphasis on promoting arms exports with the staunch upholding of human rights.
We recommend that the Government states what specific steps it is taking to ensure that UK exporters take full advantage of the potential benefits of the Treaty on US/UK Defence Trade Co-operation, and also reviews the performance of the Export Control Organisation (ECO).
We recommend that the Government sets itself a much shorter timetable within which to make the UK's Consolidated Criteria for arms exports wholly consistent with the EU's Common Position.
On enforcement, we recommend that the Government states what precise action it will take against 'brass plate' companies registered in the UK but trading in arms from overseas locations. We also recommend that the Government carries out a full review of the case for a pre-licence register of arms brokers.
On extra-territoriality we conclude that there is no justification for allowing a UK person to conduct arms exports overseas that would be a criminal offence if carried out from the UK and we recommend that the Government extends extra-territoriality to all items on the Military List in Category C.
We recommend that the Government provides detailed information on the parameters of the torture end-use control it intends to propose to the EU. We found the revelation that sodium thiopental had been exported from the UK for use in executions in the United States deeply disturbing and we recommend that the Government states what monitoring and procedural changes it has made to prevent any similar avoidance of export controls occurring.
On applying criterion 8 of the Consolidated Criteria namely "The compatability of the arms exports with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should achieve their legitimate needs of security and defence with the least diversion for armaments of human and economic resources", we recommend that the Government provides a full statement of the methodology it uses in relation to Criterion 8 in deciding whether or not a specific arms export licence should be approved.
On the Arms Trade Treaty, we recommend that the Government continues to try to achieve the strongest possible Treaty, including exports of ammunition, with the maximum number of key countries including the United States, as signatories, but should not adopt a strict consensus or lowest common denominator approach which is likely to result in an Arms Trade Treaty being ineffectual.